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Are the new debt collection rules helpful?

When someone owes money and cannot or refuses to pay, the debtor may expect a debt collector’s call. “Professional” debt collectors, third parties that purchase debts, survive and thrive by succeeding where the original creditor faltered. In Maryland, debt collectors must follow rules that keep them from harassing debtors. Unfortunately, not all debtors realize they have rights.

Rules established under federal statutes

Third-party debt collectors must abide by the rules found in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The rules received some changes recently, and debt collectors must behave per the changes.

“Old rules” still apply, such as sending out a detailed letting to describe the past-due debt. Debt collectors may not seek debts not legally owed, nor may they engage in harassment. New changes build on the original rules.

Some changes reflect a “modernization” of the original act. For example, social media has become an effective way for people to communicate. A debt collector may send correspondence to someone’s social media page, but the rules mandate privacy. So, a debt collector may not seek to embarrass someone by posting publicly on a group or profile page.

Protecting the consumer and debtor

Harassment could add significant stress to a life that may already be suffering through financial hardships. A debtor might already know about what he/she owes, and the law limits how often a collection agency may call.

Regardless of the law, third-party debt collectors might continue to violate a debtor’s rights. Filing a complaint about the activity with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could help address the matter, but some collectors may continue to violate the rules. If so, then taking steps further and contacting an attorney might be an option. An attorney could offer debt collection harassment help for consumers. The attorney might also advise clients of their rights and how to protect them.